in tow was initiated as a project to acknowledge and deepen the artistic and cultural legacies I carry with me as an "experimental" cultural producer. After moving to central Illinois in 2008, I became starkly aware of other understandings of "experimental" in different geographic contexts and became interested in decentering my own New York-centric perspective. in tow is the manifestation of a new body of work, born from interdisciplinary collaboration, ecological research, and, increasingly, purely choreographic experimentation. I am keenly aware of being in a new phase as an artist.
in tow is an ongoing, modular performance work that will exist both as a live performance piece and as a five-episode web-based TV series. The live performance component will premiere at Danspace Project September 22-24, 2016, with the web series launching in January 2017. The material for the performances will be drawn from two years of experimental collaborative research that explores interdisciplinary creative processes across multiple contexts. The collaborators on in tow span discipline, geography, and generation. Some are artists with whom I have worked since the 1980s: DD Dorvillier, currently based in France; Zeena Parkins, based in New York City; David Zambrano, originally from Venezuela and currently based in Belgium. Others are new collaborators I have met since moving to the Midwest: Susan Becker, a fashion and costume designer based in Illinois; Valerie Oliveiro, a photographer and performer based in Minnesota; and Rose Kaczmarowski, a costume designer and bicycle community activist based in Indiana. Finally, in this new phase, four younger collaborators are joining the project: Niall Jones, based in New York City; Nibia Pastrana Santiago, based in Puerto Rico; Angie Pittman, recently relocated from the Midwest to New York; and Alice MacDonald, also based in New York.
We will employ different generational and geographic approaches to dance and other disciplinary practices to question the political and aesthetic conditions that produce the "experimental." We will draw on traditions of experimentation across cultures and disciplines to study our assumptions about the "experimental" as well as to create new possibilities that draw on our histories and desires for the future.
The performances and web series culminate our research, generated from residencies and public engagements held in Illinois, and a five-week residency on Captiva Island, Florida. In these residencies, we have developed interdisciplinary practices and processes as ways to experiment with the nature of form, movement, rhythm, and line. From these experiments, three main topics have arisen: horizon, resonance, and impossible tasks. These themes give us a "meta-container" to work across diverse perspectives and to generate specific material. Instead of working toward an evening-length work, we will use a modular approach. Every performance event will be selected from the aggregated elements of the research. We are interested in setting up a space that calls on the audience to join us in an experimental frame of mind by altering the experience of sound, expanding notions of space, reversing expectations, and stretching the imaginative possibilities of what moving bodies, images, and sound can do. Some of our current experiments include a perceptual set up that makes it possible to be inside a horizon line through projections onto objects in the space; rhythmic patterns derived from geologic and tidal features used to develop "folkdance" sequences, and fabric constructions that extend and convolute body shapes and movement. The piece will respond to the kinesthetic and aural specifics of St. Mark's Church and our audience.
The web series is inspired by our research into the "experimental" TV shows of the 1960s. Although later driven by chiefly economic interests, television produced in the 60s encouraged both technological and programmatic innovation. Currently TV is experiencing a new "Golden Age," propelled by wider public access to both viewing and creating with new technologies. Dance has also had more visibility through this access but mostly in the entertainment vein. We will use these new platforms to inspire a five-episode web series: two based on documenting the creative process, formatted as "how-to" shows; two episodes that are performance events in and of themselves; and a fifth episode of interviews with collaborators and audience members. We are interested in the different ways that live performance and digital media inform and shape each other and our understandings of the experimental. in tow is committed to creating a space that resists judgment and expectation and opens up intimate and supple modes of perception and connection. in tow insists that experimental thinking and making are liberatory acts.